Build Your Vocabulary
Shows the need for an understanding of the value and techniques of learning new words. Dramatizes the story of a father, who, after finding himself at a loss for words at a public meeting, follows his son's lead and starts a campaign of vocabulary improvement. For high school, college, and adult groups.
Ken Smith sez: The film opens at a "civic association" meeting, probably a familiar setting for its late forties audience. "Mr. Willis" wants to speak his mind, but he lacks the vocabulary he needs to articulate his thoughts properly. Afterward, as he sulks at home, dutiful son Pete asks him to read his term paper before he hands it in -- a paper about the need to turn public parks into "playgrounds for the direction of youthful energy into character-building channels." Mr. Willis is impressed with Pete's "explicitness," and Pete encourages him to keep a "vocabulary notebook" in "a business-like way." "People can be interested in new ideas," the narrator explains, but apparently only if they're articulated correctly. Mr. Willis doesn't find building his vocabulary easy ("Nobody can learn all these words!" he yells at one point, "I'm going to bed!"), but in the end it pays and he becomes the star of the next civic association meeting. Who says the young can't teach the old? All interiors. Some nice low-light photography as dad struggles at his desk at night. Some actual intended humor as dad's secretary flees from his silent scowling. Nice use of layered voices echoing inside dad's head as he wrestles with his conscience. The camera actually dollies in for reaction shots; unusual, tricky and effective. Use of flashbacks and wipes.
MCU man and woman sitting behind table, sign appears in frame above them indicating "West Side Civic Association", man standing up in what appears to be a meeting, speaking, he sits down, 2 other men stand up, 1 remains standing and begins to speak, the other sits back down; VS man speaking; MCU man sitting at table; MCU man speaking, grabs ear.
MCU young man sitting in chair reading book; looks up, closes book, sets it down, stands up, approaches door way; man enters frame removing hat, approaches sofa, sits down, young man standing next to him, they engage in conversation, young man has booklet in hand, hands it to man; MCU man sitting, reading booklet; MCU young man; man closes book; MCU young man; VS man and young man speaking; young man approaches lamp table, picks up note book, approaches sofa, sits down next to man, MS man and young man sitting on sofa young man speaking, opens notebook, CU page of notebook indicating "Personal Vocabulary Notebook"; page turns, CU text in notebook, (vocab); MS man and young man sitting on sofa; young man closes notebook, speaking, MCU man
08:00:40:00 - 08:00:55:00
MCU man sitting at desk writing in notebook (scene is dark); CU notebook page indicating "explicit", "Valance", "Vacillate", pen in frame, a check mark is placed by the work "explicit", MCU man sitting at desk writing, leans back in chair placing pen on chin as if thinking.
08:00:56:00 - 08:01:05:00
MS man sitting in chair, woman standing over him speaking, (in living room setting) woman crosses arm, places other hand under chin as if she was leaning on it.
03:01:07:00 - 08:02:09:00
MCU man sitting at desk; thinking expression on face, turning pages of book, reads book; CU highlighted text (rest of frame is black), that indicates "Val-ance (val-ens), n. short curtain; as, the valance over the top of a window; VS man at desk looking up vocabulary words, checking them off in notebook as he finds them; man closes book, stands up, shuts off light.
08:02:09:00 - 08:03:46:00
MS man standing at bottom of stairs putting on jacket, young man comes down stairs, picks up notebook and exits frame; VS man putting on jacket, stops as if to listen to someone talking to him; puts on hat; picks up newspaper, headline indicates "Mayor Issues Ultimatum", folds it up and exits frame; MS man sitting down at desk; CU text of letter; MCU man looking upset; woman coming in door to man's office; approaches man's desk; MCU man; she approaches door, exits, MCU man; CU man leaning head on fist; VS man at desk looking upset; reaches into jacket pocket, removes notebook, sets it on desk, opens it, writes in it; CU man writing word "anthology".
08:03:47:00 - 08:04:49:00
CU book cover indicating "Anthology of Modern Plays"; MS man sitting in chair looking at book; man sets down book, picks up another; CU book cover indicating "Complete Guide to Interior Decoration", book is opened to first page, top of page indicates "Table setting as decoration"; MCU man looking at book; closes it, sets it down, picks up another book; CU cover indicating "Fundamentals of Printing"; MCU man looking at book; camera approaches book cover indicating "The Modern Playground".
08:04:50:00 - 08:06:07:00
MCU man sitting banging gavel on desk; MCU man standing speaking (profile); MCU man sitting; (reaction shot) MCU man standing speaking; MCU young man (reaction shot); MS man standing speaking to audience; CU young man.
08:06:08:00 - 08:06:37:00
MS man sitting on sofa, young man standing next to him; man looking at booklet; MS 5 people sitting at table; MS woman sitting at desk speaking to woman sitting to side of desk, woman answers telephone; MS people sitting at table.
08:06:38:00 - 08:07:15:00
MCU young man; MS man speaking to audience; audience begins to applaud; man sits down; shakes hands with man sitting next to him.
dad father son family dictionary
Subject: Diagnosis: Pre-senile Dementia
Looks like early symptoms of dementia. Note his facial expression at the meeting at the beginning of the movie. Yup. It's organic. What they don't show at the end is that he has his underwear on over his suit pants.
Very nice handwriting though. No motor manifestations at this time.
Subject: A fine classic film
By the way, this particular Coronet film was filmed in color, and available in both color and black and white prints.
Subject: What you talkin' about Willis?
Subject: English is nearly impossible to master, even as a first language.
This film is both condescending and completely implausible. It rocks.
Subject: MR. WILLIS ISSUES EXPLICIT ULTIMATUM
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: *****.
Subject: Feasible allocate anthology ultimatum
Subject: Use them big words!